Bryan Charles, Appledore, Devon, England
The Magnificent Magnificat Timothy Cross
Publisher: Gospel Folio Press, 304 Killaly St. W., Port Colborne, ON L3K 6A6, Canada.
This is a short, mainly devotional, consideration of Mary’s praise of God, in Luke chapter 1, identified as her ‘Magnificat’ and ‘song’. There are some very helpful thoughts and applications, clearly expressed, as the writer goes through the ‘song’ verse by verse. It is the kind of book one might consider passing to a younger believer. However, for that very reason a serious warning is needed.
As one reads, quotations keep occurring from the ‘Shorter Catechism’, about which we are given no information. In a book of this kind footnotes and a bibliography are not expected; however, we find that some weighty theological issues are being raised. On Luke chapter 1 verse 47 the writer deals in particular with ‘God my Saviour’ and poses a question that he answers not from scripture – his usual practice – but from this source. The question is hardly minor – ‘Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?’ The answer is, ‘God having, out of his mere good pleasure elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace’. We are introduced to Calvinistic teaching and covenant theology (which denies the literal fulfilment of the promises to Israel). Readers who are familiar with the ‘Shorter Catechism‘ would expect this, but these are probably few. Indeed, the very question is taken from this source, but this is not apparent. This source also holds that ‘God hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass’. In the consideration of God’s mercy in verse 50, we read, ‘our deepest need is for a Saviour’ and ‘in Christ we have the all-sufficient Saviour for our need’, where reasonably we assume that ‘our’ refers to all people. However, in the next paragraph we read, ‘His mercy is limited to a particular people who know his special, saving mercy’. The implications and logical deduction are clear but left implied.
As expected, therefore, a future for Israel is denied as verses 54 and 55 are considered. The writer affirms that God is faithful, but, in his view, the promise that He will reign over the house of Jacob is fulfilled in the church. Mary did not realize the full implications of what she was ‘compelled’ (author’s word) to utter. Was she mistaken?
Proof reading could be better – there are 2 sentences, which do not make sense as they stand, and the same simple spelling error occurs twice.
[Our thanks to Bryan Charles, Appledore, Devon, England, for this review.]